The country music world is mourning the loss of one of its most iconic stars, Toby Keith, who passed away on February 5, 2024, at the age of 62. Keith, who was battling stomach cancer, died peacefully surrounded by his family, according to a statement posted on his website.
Keith was a singer, songwriter, actor, and record producer who rose to fame in the 1990s with his debut album Toby Keith, which featured the number one hit “Should’ve Been a Cowboy”. He went on to release 19 more studio albums, two Christmas albums, and five compilation albums, selling over 40 million records worldwide. He had 61 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, including 20 number one hits and 22 additional top 10 hits. His longest-lasting number one hits were “Beer for My Horses” (a 2003 duet with Willie Nelson) and “As Good as I Once Was” (2005), both of which stayed at the top spot for six weeks.
Keith was known for his patriotic and outspoken songs, such as “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)”, which was inspired by the 9/11 attacks and his father’s death, and “American Soldier”, which paid tribute to the U.S. military. He also had a humorous and playful side, as shown in songs like “I Love This Bar”, “Red Solo Cup”, and “As Good As I Once Was”. He was influenced by other working-class songwriters like Merle Haggard and wrote about life, love, and country pride.
Keith was also an avid performer, who loved to entertain his fans with his live shows. He toured extensively throughout his career, both in the U.S. and abroad. He headlined several major tours, such as the Shock’n Y’all Tour, the Big Throwdown Tour, the Hookin’ Up and Hangin’ Out Tour, and the America’s Toughest Tour. He also co-headlined tours with other country stars, such as Brooks & Dunn, Montgomery Gentry, and Trace Adkins. He also made history in 2009, when he became the first American country artist to perform in the UK in 10 years. He played four shows in London, Glasgow, Belfast, and Dublin, and received sell out shows with rave reviews from the British fans and media
Keith was not only a successful musician, but also a philanthropist and a businessman. He founded the Toby Keith Foundation, which supports children with cancer and their families, and the OK Kids Korral, a home away from home for pediatric cancer patients in Oklahoma City. He also owned a chain of restaurants called Toby Keith’s I Love This Bar & Grill, named after his hit song. He was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Donald Trump in 2021, the highest honor given to artists by the U.S. government.
Keith also ventured into acting, starring in the 2006 film Broken Bridges and the 2008 film Beer for My Horses, based on his song of the same name. He also appeared in several TV shows, such as The Ranch, The Muppets, and Family Guy.
Keith is survived by his wife of 40 years, Tricia, his three children, Shelley, Krystal, and Stelen, and his grandchildren. He will be remembered as a true country music legend, a loyal patriot, and a loving family man. His songs will continue to inspire and entertain generations of fans.
Rest in peace, Toby Keith. You will be missed. 🙏